Many local people have become more and more horrified at the high handed attitude and approach to key local issues and the associated politics demonstrated by the local Conservative EDDC Councillors. Much has been written about all of this in the local press, and many local commentators have critiqued all of this as things have unfolded over recent years.
In the entire maelstrom of political shenanigans that have seemingly become the norm in how EDDC business is conducted by local Conservative politicians, there are those honourable local elected politicians who have tried to act as the voices of, and in the interests of, the local electorate. Because of the large inbuilt Conservative majority on EDDC it would appear that many amongst their number believe it is their inalienable right to do whatever they want to. And as time has gone on they have shown more and more, like Stalin or a North Korean Kim, that they will take any step necessary to stop other elected representatives, or the electorate, from either scrutinising their actions or commenting upon them.
One the very significant and controversial local political issues of recent times is the plan to relocate EDDC’s headquarters. Skypark was bizarrely chosen as the intended site for the headquarters to relocate to from the Knowle in Sidmouth. Hence #knowlegate. This decision did not carry local support and was greeted with absolute incredulity by the public. But, that didn’t stop the local Conservative grandees in pushing on with their ridiculous plans to relocate to Skypark.
Then suddenly out of the blue last week came the news that the relocation to Skypark was off. So, one of EDDC’s independently minded Councillors, Claire Wright, chose to report this on her blog http://www.claire-wright.org/. For anyone who really has not been paying attention to East Devon matters for several years you need to know that Claire was elected in the last EDDC elections with the highest popular vote of any Councillor of any party, and she is an Independent. So, all in all she is a danger to EDDC Conservatives.
Over her period of office Claire Wright, along with many others, has been challenging the EDDC Conservative group on matters that she and many of the electorate believe need to be challenged. This has made Claire Wright the local Conservative’s number one hate figure, and in many ways they have made her political life incredibly difficult. One has to muse as to whether if Claire Wright was a man they would have acted the way they have. I don’t suppose misogyny comes into it, does it? I’m sure that breaching the Equality Act on the grounds of sex discrimination wouldn’t apply either!
To add insult to Conservative injury, Claire Wright decided earlier this year to announce that she intended to challenge the incumbent local Conservative MP for East Devon, Hugo Swire, at next year’s general election. This has obviously angered local Conservatives who clearly are out now to try in every way to try to damage Claire Wright’s chances at the general election.
A tip for anyone who likes the occasional flutter at the bookies – Claire Wright is now 16/1 to win the East Devon seat! The odds keep shortening so place your bet as soon as you can.
Back to #knowlegate. On 25 November Claire Wright blogged on the decision not to relocate to Skypark under the heading “EDDC drops HQ move to Skypark. We’re going back to Honiton now, says it all”. Claire then set out clearly why she believed the whole #knowlegate saga had been a travesty. In her piece Claire also said “The conservative leadership (on EDDC) should pay a very high price for this – preferably with their seats at the next election”. This is a pure unashamed acceptable political knockabout comment. And why not!
Someone then posted an unsolicited comment on Claire Wright’s blog story “Cull all Tory Councillors”. This was probably a sentiment from that person’s heart and a comment that many in East Devon would concur with. Again, this is an accepted political knockabout comment that is widely used in political and media commentaries across the UK. So how do I know that this comment was made? One Councillor Phil Twiss, who coincidentally is the EDDC Conservative Group’s Whip, said so in an email at 8.51am on 27 November.
In that email, which was sent to Claire Wright, Councillor Twiss set out the link to the blog story on #knowlegate’s latest news. That link is http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/site/comments/eddc_drops_hq_move_to_skypark._were_going_back_to_honiton_it_now_says.
Also in Councillor Twiss’ email he demanded that Claire Wright “remove the threatening comment immediately from your blog or I will place the matter in the hands of Devon and Cornwall police today”. The threatening comment was the one made by someone other than Claire which, again according to Councillor Twiss, said “Cull all Tory Councillors”. I have to rely upon Councillor Twiss’ email to know of this comment, which obviously Claire Wright must have removed, as it isn’t there anymore. Personally, if I was Claire I would have left the comment on the blog as it is nothing more than a third parties' strong, but politically acceptable, view.
Blow me, if only 11 minutes after he emailed Claire Wright, Councillor Twiss emailed all EDDC Councillors at 9.02am on this matter. In this he really went over the top in his verbiage. It is worth setting his email out in full –
“Please see below where Cllr Claire Wright has seen fit to publish a threatening and highly offensive comment against Conservative Party Councillors (sic) which I am sure you find as appalling and distasteful as me.No matter how much we disagree on various issues to knowingly publish a comment in likely breach of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 such as this is below contempt and I trust you will join me in condemning this action”.
So yet again, Councillor Twiss shares with others this “threatening and highly offensive comment”. A comment that he believes is a “likely breach of the Malicious Communications Act 1988”. Err... surely sharing this “threatening and highly offensive comment” with around 60 other people, as he did, and doing so by providing them all with the direct link to the “threatening and highly offensive comment”, Councillor Twiss himself at that point had committed a “likely breach of the Malicious Communications Act 1988” which he argued Claire Wright had! Not a bright lad clearly!
A further 4 hours and 51 minutes later dear old Councillor Twiss is back emailing all EDDC Councillors again about this matter. This time he confirms that Claire Wright had removed the “threatening and highly offensive comment” from her blog site. Congratulations Councillor Twiss on your vigilance, and managing to get her to see the error of her ways! Other Conservative Councillors on EDDC could now surely sleep soundly in their beds.
Ah, but Councillor Twiss wasn’t finished yet with that mischievous Claire Wright. His email informed all the other EDDC Councillors that he had now passed “the details of the blog together with those of a resident of Feniton to the Devon and Cornwall Police Cyber unit for comment”. I bet that the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary were glad of this important piece of policing that Councillor Twiss handed to them.
But why did Councillor Twiss at this point decide to report Claire Wright to the police? Hadn't she had acceded to his request to remove the “threatening and highly offensive comment”? If you recall 5 hours and 2 minutes earlier in his first email of the day on this matter he had said to Claire Wright that if she didn’t “remove the threatening comment immediately from your blog or I will place the matter in the hands of Devon and Cornwall police today”. By this time she had done as he had asked, but still he reported her to the police. Why? Surely, by this point he hadn’t decided that he might try and inflict political damage on Claire Wright? As the manipulative (Tory) politician in the political drama House of Cards used to say “you might possibly say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment”.
In case you can’t believe that a political representative, such as Councillor Twiss, would do all of this, have a look at the emails that he sent on this matter -http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/eddc_tory_whip_reports_me_to_the_police_for_a_comment_on_this_blog
So, has Councillor Twiss just over reacted?
Has Councillor Twiss decided to try to damage Claire Wright by linking her to the “threatening and highly offensive comment” posted by someone else?
Is this part of an ongoing campaign by EDDC Conservatives to try to derail Clair Wright’s popular general election campaign?
Has Councillor Twiss applied double standards to this matter by publicly repeating the “threatening and highly offensive comment” and providing others with the link to the
“threatening and highly offensive comment”?
Has Councillor Twiss breached the same Malicious Communications Act that he claimed Claire Wright had done?
You can make up your own minds on all of this I’m sure.